Monday, July 9, 2012

Sprig Muslin

Audiobook (unabridged), read by Siân Philips, length: 10hrs 1 min

Image coming soon
"Oh. I forgot to mention that she is your niece. She and Hildebrand are cousins."
"I seem to have been acquiring an alarming number of new relatives" he remarked.
"Yes", she agreed.
She hesitated, colouring faintly. "Which puts me in mind that I should warn you, that I should be obliged to call you Gareth while we remain in this inn. I am afraid you may not like it, but..."
"On the contrary", he said smiling. "Are you also related to me?"

Dialogue between Lady Hester and Sir Garth, discussing how they contrived to make the innkeepers believe, that their party is completely respectable.

Miss Amanda "Smith", a runaway girl, who is determined to make her grandfather give his consent to her marriage to a mere Brigade Major by running away from home, meets Sir Garth Ludlow, an amiable Gentleman, who is on the way to propose to the very eligible Lady Hester Theale.
Throw in some abominable relatives, a disreputable libertine, an heroic youth and a whole lot of make-believe and here is another fine story by the queen of regency romances.

I have to admit, I am a little torn on this one.
It was definitely one of GH's funniest novels and on many occasions I could not help but smiling (I nearly laughed out loud a couple of times, it was so hilarious - since I usually listening to the audiobooks while I`m on a walk with my baby-son, people kept looking at my a little bewildered :))
The final scene, when all the wonderful and horrible characters of the book meet in a brilliant encounter...  - that is simply delightful.
But, I am a little disappointed about the romance part on this one. I thouhgt Lady Hester a little to "bland" - in my opinion one of Heyer's weekest heroines. The romance between her and Sir Gareth is not really that romantic, not like in most of GH's other books.
This one is really much more about Amandas adventures and Gareth efforts to keep up with her (and later, Amandas efforts to keep up with him).

So, although it is a very charming and truly diverting book, it does not rank amongst my favourites.
(Still a lot better than a lot of other non-Heyer books though :)

The narrator is once again Siân Philips, and once again, an outstanding performance. She makes it sound all so real. I love her style!
So great unabridged audiobook - definitely worth listening to.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Bath Tangle
Audiobook, read by Sian Phillips; length: 11 hours, 60 minutes

Bath Tangle | [Georgette Heyer]

 "...I should be very happy to think I need never say another word to you for as long as I live -- and of all things in the world there is nothing nothing! so abominable, and contemptible, and cowardly, and ungentlemanly as persons who walk out of the room when one is addressing them!" 
Lady Serena Carlow to Ivo Barresford, Marquis of Rotherham, who is walking out of the room while she is talking to him.

I have to say, that due to other reviews I read about this book, I was a little reluctant to give this one a go. Many people said, that they could not like the hero and the heroine of this book and I was therefore afraid, I would not enjoy this book at all.

But I was very much mistaken. While it is true, that Serena and Ivo are a little different from Heyer's usual main characters, I still fell in love with both of them immediately.

Bath Tangle starts shortly after the late Earl of Spenborough has died unexpectantly, leaving an unmarried headstrong daughter of 25 years and a widow younger than his daugher.
Since the
Earl of Spenborough has no male heir, his title and the major part of his wealth and land goes to a distant relative. No surprises here for all involved parties, until at the testament reading it is disclosed, that the late Earl has appointed Ivo Barrasford, Marquis of Rotherham to be his daughter's trustee, until she finally decides to marry.
Unfortunately said Marquis of Rotherham is not only an old friend of the family but also a former fiancee of Serena - needless to say, their betrothal did not end well.

Awkward situation? - You could definitely say that. But also the beginning of a humorous, fast paced and entertaining story.
Yes, Serena is a spoiled child, headstrong and impulsive with little regard for other people - but she is all of that in such a charming way that you immediately forgive her and feel for her. She stands her ground, is fearless and quite shockingly unromantic - but nevertheless enchanting.
She quarrels with the "odious Marquis" whenenver she gets the chance but as soon as someone else tries to abuse him, she takes his side and shows a great deal of understanding for him.

Ivo on the other hand is not a beau, no Nonpareil, no rake - just a grumpy, quarrelsome, hottempered person. If it was not for the insights that Serena gives us into his character, it might be hard to sympathize with him, but Serena helps us understand, what his amiable qualities are.

That's what I loved about their relationship - they know each other so well, that they don't have any illusions about one another. They love one another because of their quirks.

So, I have to say, I wasn't expecting it, but Bath Tangle has made it into my Top10 list of Heyer books. Definitely a keeper!

The audiobook itself was great also. Sian Phillips is a wonderful narrator, she makes the characters and the story come alive. The audiobook is an unabridged version, so you can enjoy every last of Heyer's wonderful characters and dialogues.
Sian Phillips sounded like a Grand Dame and thanks to her, I now know how to pronounce "Spenborough" :)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Masqueraders


Another Heyer novel with cross dressing and gender bending; this time it features a brother and sister
who play sister and brother. The book also features the siblings' love interests and their master manipulator father. This novel is set just after the Jacobite Rising and that features in the plot and the cautious atmosphere looking for rebels.

The premise is interesting. I do like my cross dressing plots, but this novel was a tad boring for most of the book. I liked the main characters, but maybe there wasn't enough depth to them for me to really feel invested. I also couldn't really get into the romances. Sir Anthony is intelligent and big, and that seems to be about it. It felt that there was wasted potential with the premise.

One thing that has been bothering about these novels is the frequent abductions of young females. How often did this happen in the eighteenth century? It seems like every month in these books.

I did like the ending though and it wasn't a bad read by any means. Heyer usually has some nice touches in her characters and plot. I think the twists towards the end helped end this novel on a high note.

Reblogged from Aquatique.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

These Old Shades

These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer

Since I read Devil's Club (the sequel to These Old Shades), I knew some of the characters already and the twixt that Leon is actually Leonie. I've always kinda like the trope of girls dressing up as boys. It's always a good source of comedy. TV Tropes calls it Bixfauxnen. It's usually really amusing and it was here too.

I liked this more than the Black Moth because the structure of it was better than Heyer's first novel. It was more cohesive and there was less abrupt jumps between sets of characters. As usual, I liked the secondary and supporting characters. You get a sense that amidst the comedy, abductions, and the wild plots that these characters like each other and care for one another.

As for Leonie and the Duke. The latter is standard bad man in need of reform. I like that their union is about how she loves him for who he is and sees the little good in him. I do think that her worship of him was a little too much at times and she could be impertinent and rude. She made up for it by being incredibly charming by the end though and in Devil's Club when she matured more.

This is my fourth Heyer and my third in which a kidnapping of a female happens. It's a harsh reminder how completely without rights women were back then. Even Lady Fanny tells her husband that she is his wife and not his chattel, but apparently, this doesn't apply to unmarried females because they tend to get kidnapped so often in these books.

This was a fun Heyer novel and a good one to start off probably, but I still think I like A Civil Contract best. That was one of her later works though and I am trying to go through Heyer's bibliography more or less chronologically.

Reblogged from Aquatique.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Black Moth

The Black Moth

This was Georegette Heyer's first novel and published in 1921 when Heyer was just 19. The novel is inspires These Old Shades (which is the book I am reading after this one) which will set off Devil's Club and An Infamous Army.

As it happened with Devil's Club, this book was a bit slow to start off, but it had some charming moments. Heyer gives her characters some delightful interactions and dialogue. I've noticed that her villains and antagonists go around blaming their genes and blood for their bad habits and addictions
which I guess would be appropriate for the time. The antagonists in this novel are fairly annoying, but they all seemed to be redeemed by the end. Even Tracy's kidnappings are somewhat swept under a rug.

The best part of the novels were around Jack, Diana, Miss Betty and the O'Haras. Miss Betty steals almost every scene she is in. Diana was described as having "a tragic mouth that belied a usually cheerful disposition, and hinted at a tendency to look on the gloomy side of life". If only I could have written like that at 17! While Heyer is not super literary or luminary in some ways, there is talent in writing characters, plots and stories with such appeal and seeming ease.

The biggest issue I had with this novel was actually the lack of page time for the above characters. Why was there so much time spent on secondary characters and not the main romance? I liked Diana, but I didn't think the viewer read enough of her as a heroine. There was a lack of character and relationship development there. Too much on the antagonists and the periphery characters, unless they were suppose to be the protagonists? In any case, the most winsome characters had the least amount of attention in this book.

Still, an engaging first novel for any writer and enjoyable Heyer as usual.

Reblogged from Aquatique.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Civil Contract review

A Civil Contract

On the heels of Devil's Club, this book is different in tone, characterization, and pacing. It is Jane Austen like and actually three of Austen novels are referred in the book. The set up is also akin to an Austen novel where there is a poor family and marriage as a way out of that. There are some really amusing supporting characters as well which is reminiscent of Austen. Unlike Austen, the protagonist is a Viscount in need of a rich wife.

This book is about a subtle romance or rather should I say, it's about two people getting to know each other in a marriage of convenience. It was fascinating to watch two generally good young people enter in a marriage of convenience and grow accustomed to one another. I just can't think of many stories where that happens and of course, it's no as prevalent as today so modern stories don't really feature this kind of theme. Though this kind of contrivance and the novel's love triangle remind me a lot of Korean dramas.

The narration kept referring to how plain, homelely and down right unpretty Jenny the female lead was. She could not have been that bad and honestly, one can overlook that sort of thing readily, but I guess it is a accurate to that society that they cared so much for her looks and mien. Still, she couldn't have been that ugly, I'm surprised Heyer didn't give her some redeeming physical feature other than her smile.

In any case, I don't think people expecting passionate romance like that of Devil's Club will be pleased with this novel. It's more serious, historically rooted (set at the time of Waterloo) and real. The dialogue and the conflict felt very real between the characters at times. A Civil Contract was published in 1961 some thirty years after Devil's Club so the author herself had matured.

I liked this novel. It was more slow paced, but it was still interesting. I grew fond of the characters; they were all realistically flawed, but good people. I also like unconventional romances so this was right up my alley. I was impressed with the range Heyer showed in both these novels and it has made me a fan. I am now going to go through the rest of her novels.

First reviewed Aquatique. I've read a couple of Heyer books since reading A Civil Contract, but it remains one of my favourite Heyer novels so far.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Devil's Club review by Athena

Hi everyone! This is my first post on the blog. I have wanted to read Georgette Heyer for a few years and recently started and really like her style. I post at Aquatique and all my book reviews feature there first.

Now for the book review...

Devil's Club

This is my first Georgette Heyer novel. I have been curious about Heyer for awhile now. Since I started blogging about books a few years ago, her name kept coming up on the blogosphere. It was inevitable especially since I adore Jane Austen's novels. Austen and Heyer are not exactly the same of course. Heyer is detailed and must elucidate on historical details such as fashion and dress.

I don't really read a lot of romance books or whatever is considered typical romantic novels now. I do read some chicklit, but not a lot. The premise of this story is classic good girl 'tames' bad boy. I found the book a bit slow to like. There was a little too much showing how rakish (almost sociopathic) Vidal was at the beginning. The whole premise of him kidnapping Mary makes them both look ridiculous. I found his initial threats to her distasteful; it's not very romantic to me how they began their relationship.

When the leads started bantering, it got better. The book became even more addictive and engaging once they reached Paris (isn't that usually the case?). Heyer is very good at pacing. There were many characters in this book and many misunderstandings. It was a comedy of errors almost. There was a lot of dramatic irony for the reader and made it a page turner.

I only wish we had more of the two protagonists and their time together, but still, it was a good escapist, light read. I have another Heyer after this which I am looking forward to as well.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Footsteps in the Dark

Footsteps in the DarkFootsteps in the Dark by Georgette Heyer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(SOS Bingo Round 4, Team 4 & x-post to blog)

Siblings Celia, Peter and Margaret inherited the Priory from their late uncle. It's old, a bit rundown and said to be haunted, but the trio decide to keep it. They along with Celia's husband Charles, their Aunt Lilian, and a pair of servants, move into it for a summer holiday. No sooner do they get settled, then the strange, eerie noises begin. Celia's all for going back to London, but Charles and Peter aren't convinced. Sure enough, they soon discover the source of the noise and are certain that whatever is going on, it's being done by a living, breathing person.

What puzzles the family is, why now? The property stood vacant for years. Why is someone trying to gain access to the house -- and trying to frighten them off -- unless there was something buried or hidden inside or among the ruins? And who is the Monk? There is no end of possible suspects. There's the door-to-door vacuum salesman, the handsome gentleman down on a fishing holiday, and the entomologist who's supposedly chasing after a rare moth at all hours of the night. Or could it someone else, someone who's activities don't seem suspicious at first.

This is my second Heyer mystery. I really enjoyed the story. I didn't guess the identity of the culprit, though I had my suspicions well before the end. As to "what" was the big deal about the property, I figured it was one of two things. I won't mention what those were, because it's a spoiler. The book had it's creepy moments, and its fun moments. And just like the first one I read, I could picture this as an old black and white movie.

What didn't work for me was the romance. Or I should say, how it was handled. The characters don't get to spend a lot of page-time together, so it was hard to see how they could be in love. Attracted to each other, yes, but I feel the story didn't allow for the relationship to be developed to the point where they're engaged by the end.

Looking forward to reading more of her mysteries.

View all my reviews